Knoxville Black entrepreneurs talk business, from restaurants to repairs

Any entrepreneur starting a business will hit speed bumps, but for Black entrepreneurs, those speed bumps are often bigger.

Damon Rawls, principal strategist with The Innovation Digital Agency and founder of the Knoxville Black Business Directory, is a fourth-generation Black business owner.

His mom owned an assisted living facility, his grandfather was a contractor and his great-grandfather repackaged and sold day-old bread from stores that wouldn’t allow Black people to shop there. 

Although technology has made it easier for people to bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life, Rawls said, not much has changed through the generations. 

“I don’t think we’ve come very far at all,” he said. “There’s (challenges with) … access to not only capital but in reference to how communities see your business. Because we still live in a world where Black people are seen in a certain way. So, therefore their businesses are kind of seen inferior.” 

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